Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Teaser Tuesday - 11/11/14

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:
• Grab your current read
• Open to a random page
• Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
• BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
• Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

The teaser I'm giving is actually the two chapters of Two Breathes Too Late by Rochelle Maya Callen which she had posted on her page today. I really like this author's books but this book is not one I plan on reading ever in the future just because I know I would cry the whole book because it would be beautiful...but I really don't want to cry a whole book. Be warned, if you ever read it, a lot of crying will happen because that's basically what people have said they have done when reading it. Happy Reading.

You aren't a tunnel of light, a choir of angels, or even an ascension of the soul. You are a twitching leg, a spasm of breath, a moment of fear when I realize that the noose I tied didn't snap my neck and I am left dangling with the chair tipped over too far from my toes. You are blackness blotting out my vision, my lungs heaving in breaths that aren't there, because the rope cuts into my throat choking the life out of me, slowly.
Too slowly.
My fingers claw at the rope that I found in the closet behind liquor bottles and expired cans of vegetables. Life seeps out of me; the oxygen choked out, the carbon dioxide choked in. Where was the peace and quiet? Where was the release? The absence of fear? That is why I hid the rope under my mattress, why I waited till Mom and Dad left for work, why I climbed on a chair and tied the noose, why I wrapped it around my neck and pulled it tightly, said a prayer, squeezed my eyes shut, and stepped off the chair.
Leaving the screams, the bruises, the scars, the secrets and loneliness behind.
But you aren't taking me away.
I am suffocating in silent screams and the ash in the air. The floor is too far and I am too high. My chest caves in, and just as blackness eats my last sliver of consciousness, I realize I regret. I am too late. Death, you aren't beautiful, free, or romantic like in all of the novels I have read. You are a girl who had no hope left, dangling from a ceiling beam, who two breaths too late, realized she wanted to live.
I thought you would save me, Death.
But you are a liar.
Just like everyone else.
It is too quiet. The kind of quiet that isn't quiet at all. It is the smothering silence, which bleeds into everything; the kind of absence that mocks, prods, and stares you down until you are withered down to your bones. I swallow hard, because my throat feels raw, my neck sore and aching. I rub at it, trying to soothe the pain. I feel groggy. The room still looks dark, too dark. My alarm went off, didn't it?
I rub my eyes and pad my way toward the door in my socks. I like to be downstairs before everyone else. I blink when I flip the switch in the hallway. Dark. Still dark? Maybe the lights burned out or maybe Mom didn't pay the electricity bill again. I swear under my breath. I step on the steps lightly, leaning my weight on the railing so I don't make them creak too much. I rub my eyes again. The sleep still must be in them, because nothing looks quite right. It is all a glaze.
I bump the Alaska snow globe on the side of the vanity next to the base of the stairs and gasp, reaching out to catch it, but it didn't move. It sits still in its spot and I am left looking like an idiot with fear plastered on my face, my hands reaching frantically for nothing at all. I exhale loudly as I turn the corner and freeze. Mom and Dad are already in the kitchen, sitting in the dark.
What the hell is happening today? Are we this broke? Again? I rub my arm with my palm and step inside the kitchen. They don't look up. They never do. I always take the long way around to the cabinets, not going straight from the door to the counters because that would brush me up against Dad's chair. I always walk around, squeezing instead behind Mom's chair. She is practically a corpse, quiet, still, black and blue painting her face as if she is already rotting.
I flinch seeing her. Something is wrong, very wrong. Never does she not wear make-up. Never. I crinkle my nose and take a deep breath.
I hate her.
I brush past her and open the cabinets. I want to ask why they are sitting in the dark, but I don't want to be the one to break the silence, shatter it to tiny pieces, because that would be even more terrible than this oppressive, strangling quiet. I keep my mouth shut like always.
I bring a bowl and my cereal to the table and sit down without making a sound, because that's what good girls do. No wonder I like hardcore metal with all the screaming. I am so envious of the band members. They can scream until their throats are raw and hoarse, while mine is left raw and hoarse from disuse. Dad is reading the paper, jaw hard, eyes narrowed.
Mom lets out a whimper.
I nearly jump out of my seat. I stare at her in shock. She never, ever made a sound...not even when I heard the slaps and the pounding through the bedroom walls, not even when the punches slammed into her. Never a whimper, never a sound.
I look at her, really look at her. Her eyes are bloodshot. Her skin is blotchy with red, besides the blacks and blues, and fading yellows. Her eyes are practically swollen shut. I want to reach my hand to hers, but I don't. She may well deserve whatever thing is breaking her, but I won't break too. I pour the cereal and milk and take a bite. I still watch her from under my eyelashes and see she is clutching something in her hands. I stare at it. It is no larger than the height of her hand. A stuffed teddy bear with an eye hanging on by a thread and a tiny t-shirt that says, "Someone in Baltimore loves me."
Anger claws at my stomach. It's mine. It was on my bed, tucked under the pillow. I want to reach over and snatch it from her. I almost do, but then she whimpers again, a throaty, gurgling sound following it. She is holding her breath to keep the sob down. She isn't trying hard enough though.
"Stop that, Jo. It isn't our fault that she was such a screw up. She was a little bitch anyway for doing it," Dad says, his grip on the paper tightening, crinkling the edges. Always crushing something.
The sobs come, fierce and splintering like an earthquake. My eyes widen as I jerk my gaze to Mom. I stand up knocking over my chair. I have to get away from this woman. She may pull me into the crevice she is creating with her tears. She is going to drag me down. I can feel it. She screams her tears, not just cries them.
Dad stands up and Mom clutches the bear to her chest. She knows what is coming, but she doesn't stop. He pushes her against the wall, her chair tipping back underneath her, and then puts one massive hand over her throat. "Shut the hell up, woman. Or I'll give you something to cry about."
I run upstairs, the thud and crash and wails don't stop. I don't stop running. I fly into my room, shove my legs into the skinny jeans that are strewn across the floor, shove my head into a shirt, lace up my inked-up Converse sneakers, grab my messenger bag and run down the stairs, out the door. I gulp in the air, heaving frantic gulps. I must've been holding my breath. Always holding my breath.
There are no bruises, or secrets, or screams out here on the sidewalk. It is just me placing one foot in front of the other,making my way to the next place where I would hold my breath. I sigh and pull out my headphones. I turn up the volume all the way, ignoring the text warning about the volume and hearing loss that pops up on the screen as my finger keeps pressing the volume button. I would be happy to be deaf. I keep my finger on the volume button even though it says MAX, just in case I can squeeze a bit more out of the headphones. My shoulders relax as the electric guitars roar, drums thud ferociously, and the lead singer screams into the mic all about pain, and how messed up the world is. He and I are on the same page and I find my thumb prodding the volume button again.
C'mon, I think, Just a little louder. Just make the world go away.
It doesn't get louder. The world doesn't go away and within ten minutes of staring at my inked up shoes, I face my school.
Fin and Derryl's SUV roar down the road, competing with the chaos from my headphones. Their radio doesn't seem to have a maximum volume.
I flinch away and pull the hood over my head. I rub at my arm, remembering being rammed into the light pole. The pain jabs up my side as if remembering too. Was it just yesterday? I narrow my eyes for a second. Yesterday? Or the day before? I can't quite remember. I watch the SUV pass by, but blink as it seems to be a smear of royal blue in the air instead of just the car itself.
I rub my arms again. It is cold for May. I look at the sky. It’s overcast today. I look around, slightly confused by the dullness of everything. The sky somehow seems bright, but filtered, like an Instagram photo where they offset the colors so nothing is too glaring, but everything is some sort of greyscale. It doesn't make sense, but then very little ever does.
The thought hits me: maybe I am dreaming? Yeah. That makes sense. Mom crying should have tipped me off. The SUV not stopping to throw a shaken can of soda at my head should have been tip number two. And the offness of everything else should have sent the alarm bells ringing. I sigh, suddenly at ease. Dreams I can deal with...even if the Texas chainsaw guy came I would be able to face him and say, "You are just in my dream, dumbass" and wait for him to saw me into pieces.
I have nightmares often. While no one likes nightmares, I don't hate them, because that meant I was sleeping, and the harsh realness of everything was far away huddled in the conscious world and I was a-okay with not being a part of it.
I make my way up the school steps and glance at the tree to the right side of the entrance. He is there. I don't pause or even let me eyes linger. I just catch him looking up, and staring, searching the sidewalk. I grit my teeth for a minute as I charge up the stairs. Of course, he is searching for someone. Someone else. Someone without bruises under her t-shirt or death metal mp3 companions to drown out the world. He is of this world—wholly. Some strange mix of geek and rocker, intelligent and artistic, cool, but not so cool as to be an ass about it. August Matthews.
I kind of like the fact that his name is a month of the year, a month of sunlight, humid air, lightening bugs, last parties, beach trips, and my birthday. The first three I could appreciate. The last three, I never experienced. I just keep wishing that I would. I chance one last look at him as I open the door. He is still there, looking.
I walk inside and don't look back. It seems like yesterday it was me he was looking for on the sidewalk.
That strange, uncollected feeling hits me again. A loss of the time, a sequence of events. Had it been yesterday? No, of course not. That was years ago. Students are already filing into their classrooms. The first alarm blares. I frown. How am I late for class? I make my way to English Lit, the only bearable class in high school. It's a mix of the fact that I want to be a writer when I leave this hell-hole and the fact that I like the teacher, Ms. Hooper. I am not sure if it is because I like how Ms. Hooper's eyes sparkle when she recites a passage from her text as if somehow the words make her more real, like the words are her talisman and she just needed to read them to be set on fire. I wondered if she could feel it. The twinkle, I mean. I wonder if it was something that bubbled up inside her. I wondered what that must feel like.
I want to be Ms. Hooper.
August Matthews also sits to the right back corner of me, just a seat away. Sometimes I think I feel him watching me, but that's stupid. He wouldn't watch me. Not like before, especially with Ms. Hooper twinkling with so much life and me rotting in my seat. Weren't guys into older girls anyway?
I take my seat, surprised Britney doesn't make her oh-my-gosh I-can't-believe-I-am-sitting-next-to-this-freak eyes at me. She just giggles with Sarah and Terry and then they squeeze into their respective seats, ignoring me entirely. I could be ignored. I sit back in my seat. I think I would be perfectly happy with being ignored.
August yanks open the door, breathless. He looks confused and flustered which doesn’t suit him. He makes his way to his seat and then knocks his knuckles on my desk while chancing a glance at the door again. I blink at the spot where his knuckles had been. What was that about? I stiffen in my chair and look back, feigning looking for a pen I lost. August's eyes are on the door as he spins a pencil in his hand. He always had a pencil in his hand or tucked behind his ear. Always ready to draw something in his sketchpad. He needed to be ready for when the muse hit. I used to tease him about it when we were younger.
I pivot forward, feeling woozy all of a sudden. Ms. Hooper is leaning against her desk, hands clasped in front of her. She is young and beautiful, but there is something off. Her jaw is too tight, her eyes not sparkly at all. I can see how she swallows over and over again as if she has something to say and is trying to get the words out. Does anyone else notice? I look around. People are texting, whispering to each other, leaning over desks to plant kisses on girlfriends, girlfriends flashing thigh to get the typical jaw-dropping reactions. I look out the windows to the side of the classroom. The sky still seems grey, bright. Photoshopped. August is tapping his leg against his desk, still watching the door. Who is he waiting for?
Ms. Hooper finally clears her throat, which only gets minor attention on behalf of the students. She looks at me. I perk up. Yes, I'm listening. I am here. I am not like these dumbasses who don't appreciate your sparkle.
Beautiful and twinkling people have this way about them. A way that makes you feel like if they just watched you, just connected, that somehow made you a bit more twinkly too. She doesn’t twinkle at me though, so I can’t twinkle back. She stares through me, eyes glassy and I am convinced that somehow the black void of emptiness inside me must've robbed her of that beautiful dazzle and sent it off into the ether where so many things were lost, including, but not exclusively, my smile.
Ms. Hooper finally speaks, "Class, quiet." There is an edge in her voice I have never heard before. I stiffen, wondering who maybe cheated on our last test on Friday. I scan the room. Becca or Ty? I stare at the couple in the front corner. Stoned? Really? At 7:45am? I roll my eyes. I am surrounded by idiots.
Ms. Hooper clears her throat again, “I—I have a very sad announcement today. One of your classmates—” her voice breaks, “died yesterday.”
Her face turns red and splotchy and I sit up straighter. Died?
Someone died? I scroll through my own mental roster of the students and who I saw in the hallways.
The classroom is silent.
Ms. Hooper continues, "Ellie Walker—" her voice breaks.
Wait, what?
"...committed suicide in her home yesterday."
There is silence...too much of it especially when my heart is hammering against my ribs and my brain is running and hurdling in an attempt to keep up.
Suicide? But, but, I am right here! I want to scream at her for saying such a terrible joke while I am sitting right at my desk, but then the silence breaks with one cool bark of laughter, and Roger's voice says, "That freak! I knew she would off herself someday." Another bark of laughter, followed by a few more. That's when I feel it...the greyness of it all. The absolute offness of it all. It is smothering me because it is not right and even as I sit here, I know...
The thought doesn't solidify, because within a span of a few seconds, August is on his feet, charging through the desks and with one clean cock of the arm, punches Roger in the face.
He doesn't stop.
I run out into the hallway. I am always running from something. I go to the girl's bathroom, lungs aching from exertion. I stare into the mirror...
and see nothing.
I scream.
It is ironic that the little quiet girl who said nothing in life, screams in death.
I scream and no one can hear me.

Summary: Ellie Walker commits suicide a week before high school graduation and is forced to face the brokenness she leaves behind.

This story is about bruises and secrets and the hope that hides in even the darkest of places.

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